In keeping with years past, the next four days will be devoted to college basketball. With the exception of my year studying in Italy, I have always been in Chicago for the opening of the annual tournament. With the exception of events related to my immediate family and my faith, I cannot think of anything as constant and predictable as this tradition we began in March 1999.
And with that, here are my picks for this year. I’ve got an all-Wildcats final with Villanova cutting down the nets. I expect UNC and Michigan St. to round out the final four. However, Michigan St. has let me down severely in recent years. If they bow out earlier than the Elite Eight again, this may be it for Sparty and me.
Also, Kansas. Their handling of high seed status in the Bill Self era has never been a sure thing. Bucknell. Bradley. Ali Farokhmanesh, anyone? But that is why this tournament is so great. So much rides on a game and any one person (or team) can be the savior or destroyer of an entire season. I’ll be honest. Penn looks like an underrated 15-seed and may do more damage than some expect. Houston is back and looking strong under Kelvin Sampson and don’t sleep on Loyola Chicago, at least for the first two rounds.
With that, I leave you with what might either be genius or absolute folly: my 2018 picks.